Thursday, March 8, 2012
"Checkmate" in chess is actually "Shah Mat,"
Chess is a REALLY OLD GAME. The earliest evidence of chess dates back to the year 600 AD in Persia. "Shah" is the title of the royal Persian monarch, so naturally the King in chess was called the Shah. To win chess, you have to defeat the King, by attacking it and making it unable to move. This is called the "Checkmate" or "Shah Mat", literally, "The King is defeated". Mat is a Persian word for "defeated", "helpless", or "at a loss", all pretty good descriptions for a checkmated king.
Millions of chess enthusiasts wrongly assume that "Checkmate" actually means "The King is dead". Chess made its way from Persia to Europe through Arabia and "mat" is an Arab word for dead, so this is a likely source of the confusion. The King in chess can't be "killed" anyway, so "defeated" makes a lot more sense.